Department of History Assistant Professorial Lecturer Xiao Chua and Department of Political Science Senior Professorial Lecturer Atty. Erin Tañada led Lasallians in honoring the heroes that helped reclaim the nation’s sovereignty and in highlighting the youth’s role during the Independence Day Commemoration organized by the University Student Government Activities Assembly last June 14 at the Don Enrique T. Yuchengco Hall.
Tañada opened the discussion on what Araw ng Kalayaan means for today’s youth, pointing out how important youth participation was in achieving the country’s independence and calling back to figures like Dr. Jose Rizal, Emilio Jacinto, and Andres Bonifacio. He emphasized that the youth must look back on our history to remember what our heroes fought for and if these issues remain relevant in the present.
“Pinaglaban nina Rizal ang ating kalayaan mula sa mga Kastila. Ngayon, marami pa rin sa ating mga kababayan ang hindi pa nakakaranas ng kalayaan mula sa kahirapan at kagutuman,” he asserted. He went on to urge that the youth must lead in the fight and be catalysts of change.
(Rizal and his contemporaries fought for our freedom from the Spaniards. Presently, most of our fellowmen have not yet experienced freedom from poverty and hunger.)
Tañada said that the youth during the height of the Philippine revolution and the time of Martial Law did their part in fighting for our freedom. However, “matamlay ang ating mga kabataan sa panahon natin ngayon kapag pinag-uusapan ang national issues,” he argued. Sharing his experiences as a student activist, he said that the youth of every generation still needs convincing to be socially proactive.
(The youth now are unmotivated when national issues are being discussed.)
Chua spoke next on how rights were valiantly fought for in the past, such as how Paciano Rizal and his colleagues spearheaded the protest against the unjust treatment they received from the Spanish friars at the University of Santo Tomas in 1869.
He further emphasized that the youth must be vocal against present injustices by recognizing the past heroism of our Filipinos. Chua then discussed how nationalism was sparked when José Burgos’ vocal condemnation of Spanish assimilation and discrimination led to his public execution in 1872.
“Ang kalayaan ay kinalilimutan ang sariling pakinabang at walang ibang iniisip kun’di ang higit na kabutihan ng lahat,” Chua said, quoting revolutionary hero Emilio Jacinto in his statement published in Dyaryong Kalayaan.
(Freedom is forgetting one’s self interest and thinking of nothing else but the greater good of all.)
The speakers also expressed their dismay at how the present generation neglected the efforts of the country’s heroes as some continue to be detached to national concerns. They urged students to continue these heroes’ legacy by being attentive toward the independence and democracy of Filipinos.
“Ang sabihin na lang natin, hindi perpekto ang kalayaan, [but] we can make it more perfect sa pagbabantay ng pamahalaan at ating mamamayan na ang kanilang kalayaan ay iniingatan,” Chua encouraged.
(We can just say that our freedom was not perfect, but we can make it more perfect by keeping an eye on the government and our people that our freedom is being fostered.)